My bad if this has been posted, but here....
When homicide detectives gathered early Saturday on a blighted Gentilly street and tended to the city's latest victim, they found a familiar face.
View full sizeGarelle Smith
There in the 3500 block of Hamburg Street lay Garelle Smith, 29, dead of gunshot wounds to his head and chest.
During the past decade, Smith bedeviled the NOPD like perhaps no other accused criminal. Time and again, prosecutors and police tied him to violent crimes, locked him up and prepared a case, only for it to fall apart.
Police alleged in 2003 he was paid $10,000 to fatally shoot renowned local rapper Soulja Slim, born James Tapp. Witnesses wouldn't come forward, and the case was dropped.
That same year, cops claimed Smith killed Spencer Smith Jr. Again, witnesses wouldn't come forward, and the case was dropped.
In 2007, Smith was jailed in the killing of 24-year-old Mandell Duplessis. Smith was also jailed that year in the killing of Terry Brock. Again, no witnesses, no case.
There would be other arrests: guns, drugs, trespassing. They would have similar fates.
Smith, meanwhile, became a poster boy for the fecklessness of the city's criminal justice system. He garnered notoriety in national news outlets.
In court, he was soft-spoken but assured, carrying himself with ease even as he faced a potential lifetime behind bars. His orange prison garb was almost always oversized; at 5 feet, 6 inches and 155 pounds, he was small in stature, but his legend outsized.
On the streets, he was whispered about in almost mythic tones. Some called him a hit man, an enforcer, a one-of-a-kind criminal who never left his neighborhood.
And it was there, a block from where he used to live, that he died from a gunshot.
The New Orleans Police Department's news release on the murder is short and blunt: Officers received a call of a man shot, and upon their arrival, found the victim suffering from several gunshot wounds. The release makes no mention of the story behind Smith, or of the many times police played the cat-and-mouse game and lost.
NOPD officials declined to comment about the death of the longtime suspect Monday. The department has released no details on a possible motive or suspect in Smith's killing.
Smith had been in and out of jail since at least 1998, though he garnered few convictions as an adult. One of the rare cases that didn't evaporate was a 1998 conviction for attempted possession of a firearm while in possession of narcotics.
A judge sentenced him to five years in prison, but then allowed Smith to complete a GED and a local boot-camp program while on probation.
He had four separate cases hanging over his head when he died. His most recent arrest was June 26, when police allegedly caught him with a gun and a bag of marijuana.
He was scheduled to appear in court later this week for arraignment. If history is any guide, Smith probably would have pleaded not guilty.
Staff writer John Simerman contributed to this report. Brendan McCarthy can be reached at email@example.com
It's alot more to this story, but my N.O. niggas know wassup. RIP Slim too......